Millions of American’s have been relying on unemployment benefits over the last year as their primary source of income following COVID related job losses. This has also meant a growing number of jobless or underemployed folks on unemployment have or are about to reach the end of their benefit year.
With the combination of regular state funded unemployment and enhanced unemployment benefits under the PUA and PEUC programs to consider it has been confusing for many claimants in terms of what actions they need to take to ensure no lapse in benefits. On top of this benefit year end rules vary across states, which makes it even more challenging to figure out what to do next. To help you navigate this, here are some general guidelines and FAQS. I also strongly recommend you check state specific resource pages for more information.
What is Benefit Year End (BYE)?
Most states define your benefit year as the 12 month period after you filed your claim for benefits. So the ending date of the claim is referred to as the benefit year end or BYE date. The BYE date generally falls on the week ending date from when the claim was first paid twelve months ago. Regular UI, Extended state benefits (or FED-ED) and PEUC (including extensions) are all subject to the BYE provisions.
The only exception are claimants on PUA, where in many states like New York and California, claimants can keep filing/certifying for PUA benefits under their existing claim.
The BYE represents the claimant’s original filing date and not when they may have gotten extension. So for example if John Doe filed for benefits first in March 2020, but then moved to PEUC and had 49 more weeks available to them, their BYE date is still in March 2021 (regardless of the latest extension to Sept. 4, 2021).
State Unemployment Agencies and Labor Departments Sending Notices
If your BYE is approaching your state unemployment agency should send you a notice instructing you what to do. If you don’t get one, check your state’s UI agencies website around BYE instructions and don’t just assume you have to manually file a new claim to keep getting benefits. With all the programs in place the process can become complicated and different actions could be required based on the type of benefits you are receiving.
Some states, like New Jersey, are automatically renewing applications (they may create a new claim as a result) so eligible claimants don’t need to do anything, but others are notifying certain claimants that they need to manually reapply or their benefits could be halted. That is why it is critical you are paying attention to correspondence (emails, letters and texts) from your state UI agency if your BYE is approaching.
My Claim To Extend Benefits was Denied
While the denial of a claim sounds like bad news and causing consternation for many, it is actually how may states (like California) are managing processing around benefit year end dates. This is because the denial is based on your eligibility for state unemployment benefits, which are tied to earnings or wages earned over the prior quarters (Wage Base Period). If it is determined you do not have enough earnings that would qualify you for a new benefits year, you’ll be put right back on the enhanced unemployment extensions like PUA and PEUC. So basically, the re-application system is just checking to make sure they don’t qualify for a new benefits year, and then continuing with the federally funded extensions.
When Do I a File a New Claim – Before or After my Benefit Year End?
A claimant must generally wait until the day after their BYE date to file their new claim, unless the state is automatically extending/refiling claims. Some states like Virginia require you to wait 24 hrs after your BYE date to reapply. States like New Jersey are automatically processing new claims at BYE dates so claimants don’t need to re apply and will be notified if additional verification or documentation is needed.
Benefit Year End and Retroactive Payments for Missing or Underpaid Amounts
A common question I get are for people who are approach their BYE date but due to their low account or claim balance they may not be eligible for their full and supplementary payments in the last week or two of their benefit year. You can see this type of question below from James:
I receive Unemployment benefits (in CA). I am PEUC on extension. My year ends on May 24. 2021. I have $900.00 left in my account currently. Each certification I usually get $1410.00 after tax and with extra $300) is it true I’ll only get about half a payment next certification because of the amount left in the account? The amount left in account does not carry me into May 24th. I know that I have to reapply for a new claim at year end so I therefore set an alert to do so on May 24th. Can I do this earlier so there is no lapse? I know it can take three weeks or longer to receive approval and payment.
Question is: When can I file my new claim if my year ends May 24, 2020?
The CA EDD (and most state UI agencies) do provide guidance for PEUC claimants (in CA PUA claimants, don’t need to file a new claim) which states that for those on PEUC claims:
- Claimants will be notified that they need to file a new claim, generally at or after the BYE date (so that answers one part of the question)
- If you qualify for a new unemployment claim, but the weekly benefit amount is less than what you were earning on your PEUC extension, you will finish collecting the rest of your PEUC extension and then will be switched to your new unemployment claim. If you don’t qualify for a new unemployment claim, you will continue collecting the rest of your PEUC claim with the additional 25 weeks made available under the latest extension.
Given the process could a few weeks, retroactive payments will be made for amounts your were eligible for.